The hazing allegations surrounding University of Wisconsin’s Chi Phi fraternity chapter are the worst in years, leaving university officials hopeful fraternities will take this moment to reconsider their standards.
Associate Dean of Students Kevin Helmkamp said reported instances of fraternity hazing are rare. As it stands, beside Chi Phi, the university has only terminated one other fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu.
When the university terminates a fraternity, they require the Interfraternity Council to cut ties as well, Center for Leadership and Involvement Director Eric Knueve said.
“Chi Phi is a good reminder for all of our students that personal, organizational and university values are critical as to how students represent the university,” Helmkamp said. “Chi Phi fell a bit short, but I’m confident others will pick up the slack.”
However, oversight of fraternity activity requires constant vigilance due to the fact that, by their nature, fraternities are isolated from the university, Helmkamp said.
In addition to terminations, the university has put Alpha Epsilon Pi and Sigma Delta Tau fraternities on suspension. According to CSO, a university suspension entails the loss of all the organization’s privileges for a specified period of time.
Suspensions are limited to a two year maximum. Knueve said during the suspension, organizations are allowed to meet once a week to prepare themselves to reenter the campus community.
Knueve said organizations that undergo suspension usually return to campus as more positive contributors to the Registered Student Organization community.
He said a year ago the university created the Greek Recruitment Advisory Committee to better oversee how Greek chapters choose their members.
“If you choose a member who believes in the stated values, it’s much more likely they’re going to live by those values,” Helmkamp said. “If you choose a member who is there for the stereotypical Greek experience that is so often portrayed in media, chances are that is the experience they’re going to create for themselves.”
The third category of sanctions is probation with restrictions and currently includes Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi fraternities.
Until June 1 of this year, Beta Theta Pi may not serve or allow the possession of alcohol at any of its events. Until May 8, Sigma Chi may only serve alcohol at fraternity events held at third party vendors.
In assessing reports of possible fraternity misconduct, Knueve said if he and the CSO chair determine the organization has broken any of the 12 codes of conduct, the university has 20 school days to perform an investigation.
The 12 codes of conduct include those against discrimination, non-compliance with state or federal law, non-compliance with university regulations, damage to property, violations of alcoholic beverage or narcotics laws and hazing.
He said if there is enough information proving a violation, the university requires a hearing to decide the organization’s fate.
“I hope [the Chi Phi termination] gives all fraternities reasons to pause and reflect on whether they are living up to the standards they have agreed to,” Knueve said. “If anybody does hear of any hazing going on or has been a victim of hazing, please let us know because it has no place on our campus.”
The Interfraternity Council did not respond for comment.